ok, so my days are running together and it is Wednesday morning - so I've got a few more days under my belt - let me remind myself of what we did...
Day Two was room service breakfast, hang out around the pool, and dinner at toscaninis
Day three was room service breakfast, pigeon island hike, hang out, Manager's cocktail reception, and dinner at the Caribbean beach party (sandals event)
Day four was breakfast at Toscaninis, zip line adventure, get a drink, dinner at Kimono's at Regency.
OK, so room service breakfast is getting old. It is awesome that you can eat on the balcony but the menu is limited to omeletes, breakfast meat, fruits, and toast. It is sufficient and delicious but sometimes you want a bit more. We've really liked Toscaninis for breakfast - and their well chilled champagne. They have the same breakfast foods but are better prepares - I like my eggs benedict and Toscaninis does it well. We'll probably breakfast there each remaining morning.
** breakfast there this morning was annoying. We got there about 9am and they closed at 10am. Staff was more concerned with closing then serving. Other than that, the food was good, as usual.
Toscaninis for dinner is nice. They try to upsell you to a 'managers selection' wine, but really, the house wine (Beringer) is just fine for us - we do not consider ourselves wine enthusiasts. I had veal; she had chicken. Both were good - pasta was well cooked. Caprisi salads were small. Chef's Anitpasto selection was funny - one black olive, one green olive, one sliver of roaster yellow pepper, and one slice of marinated egg plant. Tasty but small :)
** I am still trying to get a good bottle of vodka for the mini bar... it is awaiting manager approval now...fingers are crossed! **
I mentioned before, Pigeon Island hike is an awesome "must do". Zipline yesterday was fun - I booked the one through the hotel excursion desk "Treetop adventure" with Jungle George. $200.00 per couple, 75 - 90 min busride each way but the tourguide, George, is very personable and keeps the group engaged so the trip flies by. Once you get to the park, you do 11 ziplines. Very easy and very safe - even for me who is not a fan of heights. On the way back to the hotel, George found a boa constrictor that was crossing the road so stopped, caught it and provided a good photo opp. He also stopped and picked a cocoa pod so we could sample the cocoa bean before it is processed. Then stopped at a local vendor and purcased local grapefruit for all of us - delicious! So much better than what we get in teh states. I usually eat more splenda than grapefruit - this needed no sweetener. Tips are optional but you should certainly tip George - he goes way above and beyond to make your trip worth it. I gave him $20 USD.
That will probably be the last offsite excusrion for us - we really want to chill and enjoy the beach/pool.
SO last night was dinner at Kimonos - reservations for 6pm. We went to lobby to catch the 5pm transport - We almost didnt make it b/c the buses between properties were full. There are two buses that leave the grande on each hour - one goes straight to Regency; the other goes to Halcyon and Regency. The 1st bus was full and we barely made the 2nd bus - each bus holds 24 people. When we reached Halcyon, everyone else on the bus disembarked with their beach bags- I guess it is true that the other properties make heavy use of Grande facilities. Leaving Regency and getting back to Grande was stressful as well with everyone jockying for position to make sure they got a seat on the bus. It merely reinforced that we certainly made the right decision on choosing the Grande.
So anyway, Kimonos was good. 10 people around the grill - just like any American Japanese Steakhouse except for less food. Each person orders a 'teaser' and an appetizer. Then the main course is shared. I ordered miso soup (it is red miso) for teaser and TWO appetizers - vege eggroll and tuna sashimi. Table chuckled when I ordered two but the joke was on them when they arrived. Eggroll is one half of a normal eggroll, futher divided into two pieces. Tuna sashimi is one slice of tuna sashimi. So when you go, order two or three unless you've had your stomach stapled.
Shared courses: Seafood course - one mussel, two shrimp, one sliver of mahi mahi. Main course - fried rice, chicken, steak. The main course was a decent serving of both chicken and steak.
We lucked out - our table was awesome and all 10 of us got along VERY well. Together, we went through 6 bottles of pinot grigio and a couple bottles of merlot. They eventually kicked us out from around the grill and to the outside patio where we continued the party where we had a few more bottles of chardonay (they said they ran out of pinot). One of the most fun dinners we've had; made even better by the company.
** good news! As I write this, the concierge delivered a bottle of Absolut in trade for my other vodka, gin, and whisky! Way to go, Sandals! **
SO overall, things are working out well. You just have to ask and follow through on your requests. I am not a fan of moving around the properties for dinner so we'll probably cancel our remaining reservations at La Toc and the Pier and stay here. That will make a couple people happy b/c as of yesterday, the restaurants are FULL. Make your reservations on the first day you arrive or else you'll be disappointed.
My wife's tip: Keep your beach towels from the previous day so you can reserve the premium spots EARLY. They don't put out fresh towels until 7-8am and by then, the spots have been taken!